Teenage Weekend Away with SO and Family?

Updated on June 14, 2019
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
16 answers

What are your thoughts on whether or not you would be (or are) OK with your teenager going away overnight with a boyfriend/girlfriend and his/her family? My 15yo son is dating a girl whose parents each have vacation properties. Mom's is about an hour away and is a place I've visited, dad's is a few hours away and would be impractical for a day trip. Mom's place has lots of fun, outdoor stuff to do - it's on a lake with kayaks and other water craft and in a state park with great bike paths, etc. Really fun place to spend the weekend. My understanding is that dad's place is similar, and they bring along dirt bikes, an ATV, etc. in addition to having water access.

He has been invited overnight to both places. So far, I've said no, other than a day trip to the local place where my youngest son and I were also invited. I know my son would have a good time and lots to do. I know both parents (and their respective significant others) are responsible people (I've known the mom for years, and dad is new to me but he checks out). I know that the kids will have separate sleeping quarters.

And yet...this is something that my (now ex) husband and I gave a firm "no" on with our older kids, and thought it was nuts that one of our friends regularly allowed her daughter's boyfriend to sleep over (in the guest room, as if teenagers can't sneak around when parents zonk out). I don't recall that it came up a whole lot, but I think my SD was invited to her boyfriend's beach house and we said no and that was that. My oldest son wasn't invited away with any girlfriends that I recall, and we definitely would have said no because he dated some girls with really sketchy parents. That said, he used to go away regularly with a friend who was a girl (but not a girlfriends) when he was younger, from ages 10-12 or 13.

Part of me thinks that our rule worked before and I should hold firm. I'm concerned about what the kids might do when the parents are asleep. Concerned about them spending too much time together. Concerned about the intimacy that comes from waking up in your SO's house...to me, breakfast with your girlfriend is kind of an adult privilege.

But part of me thinks "why not?" When we left the mom's cabin after our day trip a few weeks ago, the thought of letting my son sleep over so that he could join them the next day for another kayak trip or trail hike didn't seem crazy. His GF has just one older sibling who is in college and doesn't go on a lot of trips with his parents, so it's just her with them and having a "friend" along would be nice for everyone. We're going to a cabin on a lake in August and while I'm not inviting his girlfriend, I can totally see how it would be fun to have her along, just like we've invited other kid friends.

I'd love to know your thoughts...do you automatically have different rules for friends and significant others for things like this? Or do you see boyfriends/girlfriends as friends who just require a little more care in supervision and sleeping arrangements? Thanks for any insight you can share!

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

my kids did sleepovers with all manner of friends, we had puppy piles of kids sleeping here regularly, and at 15 both of my boys did mini vacations with the trusted families of friends and girlfriends.

i would do this in a heartbeat.

khairete
S.

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

I allowed my daughter to go to an out-of-state music festival with her boyfriend and his mom when she was thirteen. His mom lived in the state where the festival was held, and she drove in to pick the kids up, they stayed at her house for the week, and she took them back and forth from the festival grounds.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

We have had co-ed sleep overs. Considering my husband is a night owl and doesn't go to bed until 2AM or later on the weekends? We don't have a problem. We also know that if kids want to have sex? They can sneak anywhere.

We tell them our rules and expectations and the consequences if not followed. And we follow through.

What works for one family, doesn't work for another. You need to figure out what works for you. IF you trust the parents and your son? Why not? If they have the same rules as you, what's the problem? I doubt very seriously they want their 15 year old daughter pregnant.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

I think the difference is that he isn't spending the night at her house, but it is a trip. I was a very strict parent when it came to boyfriends, girlfriends, curfews, etc. However, I took several boyfriends (when the girls were over 16), and one girlfriend with us on family trips. I would never have said "ok" if they just wanted to sleep over, but I was totally fine with them coming along when we went places. Because I had so many kids of my own, both genders, it was easy to throw the extra kid in with the same gender kids in their room and I always felt pretty certain that someone would tattle if there were nighttime shenanigans (there never were). I will say that I was very choosy about who did get to go with us. If I wasn't comfortable with the person or the parents, it was a no go. All the kids that came with us, I knew at least one of the parents personally and the kid had already been to my house a ton and felt like family.

The hardest part would be changing the rules for one kid. I really tried hard to keep the same rules for all the kids. I see some folks when the youngest kids get older, start bending rules that there oldest ones had to follow hard and fast. That can generate resentment between the kids (even though you are the one changing the rules).

Good luck, this is a tough one.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I'm not sure but I would say go with your gut. I think the idea of having blanket type rules is really ineffective and frankly, stupid. For example "you can't date until you're 18." Some kids are perfectly ready at 16, and others can barely handle it at 21.
And it's pretty normal for parents to relax the rules for younger siblings. The older ones may shout "unfair!" at this but that's just part of being an older kid.
As long as you feel like they will be adequately supervised, and the parents aren't pass-out drunks, it should be fine, and fun.
ETA: has your son been to sleep away summer camp? If yes then he's already had plenty of "opportunities" if you know what I mean! He'll be more supervised with your family friends than he was at camp.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

ETA:
From what you're describing, I think the day trip to mom's place sounds super fun, and would have done what you did - go with him for the day. I just think sending overnight is out of my comfort zone. It's giving permission for something I got when I was older, and quite frankly, I wish I hadn't even got it when I got it, looking back. So I am basing it off my own personal experience. My mom was too lenient. I think boundaries are kind of good.

Added:

I don't know about everyone else, but I find the whole concept of kids having girlfriends at age 15 these days and how serious they are (at least around here) kind of unsettling. My son's best friend has a girlfriend like this, and it's like they will get married some day. They were having sex (definitely) at age 14. They would do this sort of thing, and while both kids are nice kids, and I like the parents, I just think "whoa .. slow down" and I wish the boy was more available to hang out with the group of guys.

What Suz describes - piles of kids - that's one thing. I think pairing off - as girlfriend/boyfriend on couple trips with families at age 15, is just .. I don't know. Different. I see it happening with my son's friends, and I don't get it. He has two good friends like this, and those boys seem to be missing out. I know the guys miss their buds. I know the moms kind of question it and think "Well, why not.." but it's bit by bit .. and then they sort of feel peer pressured, and their kids bug them, so that inch by inch they seem to give in to it.

I am the youngest in a big family, and my mom, by the end of all the kids, gave in to me. So she was too lenient and I had a boyfriend very young. It wasn't as young as 15, but for that time it was young. I regret it. I wish she's been as tough/strict as she was with my eldest sister. Oh well - you can't change it, but I wish I'd hung out with my gal pals more back in the day. You get one childhood.

That's just my perspective. I think kids are too romantically involved these days with just one kid. Groups of kids hanging out - not seriously in couples, is one thing. My kids have friends of opposite sex. Girlfriends and boyfriends spending weekends together at age 15, to me .. is just different. I get it's the fun outdoors, and what's the harm .. it's just .. something funny about it, to me. Just my opinion :)

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Teens can sneak around, but they can do that during the day, even during school if they really want. If teens want to have sex they will find a time and a place to do so, so rather then foolishly thinking I can keep my teens innocent forever I give them factual sex ed information and teach them my values and trust them. Of course I would want to know the parents but honestly teens are no more likely to have sex on a trip like this then they are any other time or place.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

If you think the adults are super responsible, you could give it a try. I think there's value to having kids see that other parents have rules, to learn to be respectful (or to practice the manners he's been taught, with the understanding that he won't be invited back if he's rude or juvenile. I agree they can - and do - have sex anywhere. If you haven't had a series of ongoing talks about sexual responsibility, respecting boundaries, "no means no" and so on, then no, he can't go. And he can't date her either.

Aside from the feelings involved and sexual integrity issues, I've seen budgets done with kids - one pack of condoms costs $X, and a pack of diapers that lasts 1 week costs $Y, times 52 weeks times 18 years. Plus food, clothing, doctor visits. Have him do the math, then budget it out based on working maybe 20 hours a week at McDonald's. Have you had that talk? More than once?

I think there are very real risks to dirt bikes, ATVs and water sports or unsupervised swimming - so how are you handling those? You say the dad "checks out" but what does that mean?

So, bottom line, I think it depends on the kid, the supervision, and how you have handled adult or "adult-like" issues before. There is value to having them experience time alone without you, because otherwise they kind of go wild in college without supervision, and you can tell which kids have never been outside their homes. But your gut will tell you what you're comfortable with based on who your kid is turning out to be at this age vs. who he will be in a year.

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G.A.

answers from Aguadilla on

Hello, I see nothing wrong in teenage boyfriend/girlfriends going on vacations together as long as the rules are also in agreement with the parents that are going along as well. Your son is 15...give him some room and trust him. Besides, they can have sex anywhere and teenagers in love and with the urge will find a way anytime, anyplace...doesn't have to be on a vacation trip with the parents right there. Instead, sit with him and teach him about safe sex and protection against pregnancies and STI's and the pro's of waiting a little while longer. Just don't make them see sex as Tabu because that is precisely what will entice them even more.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

I let my daughter and while she was in my care my granddaughter. I was more concerned about safety than sex. Because teens can find ways to have sex anywhere, i would not think staying overnight with a friend's family as any different than when at home.

If you know and trust the parents i see no harm with your 15 yo son going with them. Do you trust your son? Sounds like you have taught him your values and been consistent with outlining boundaries and consequences.

I suggest that not letting him go indicates to him that you don't trust him. At 15, it's time to loosen the rains (spelling?) a bit. He's becoming a man and needs to have opportunities that teach him responsibility.

As to having not allowed older children to stay overnight with another family: that was then, now is now. Circumstances are different now. I suggest parents and kids mature together. This is a different kid in a different family structure. The family with whom he's staying is a different family with different activities. I suggest it's usual for parents to make decisions based on current activites.

Added: at 15, a son is learning how to navigate a relationship different than his relationships with just a friend. I wanted my kids to learn how to make decisions based on current situations. If we make decisions for teens, how will they learn/internalize their own values and code of conduct? Teens need us to give reasons for our choices and then allow them to make choices. When we try to protect them, rebellion is often the consequence. Teach and let go.

I have a different understanding of term significant other. A SO is someone with whom adults are seeing their relationship as possibly being long term. I suggest teens do not have significant others. They are dating and hopefully know that their girlfriends will not be a part of adult decisions.

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N.C.

answers from San Diego on

I live in the Boston area now and your son only has a few weeks of nice weather a year to do outdoor activities. Most kids are trapped inside around here the majority of the time. This seems like a great fun opportunity for him to do outdoors at either parents vacation property. Set your boundaries and be straightforward with your son on your expectations.

If he were going to a sleep away summer camp or working as a camp counselor, he could also get into trouble. You have to trust your son.

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E.B.

answers from Denver on

I would consider asking the other mom and dad about their household rules. It's not unreasonable to politely inquire about whether underage teens might have access to alcohol, and what the parent's rules are about that kind of stuff. Just like when your kids were invited to their first sleep over, maybe in 1st grade, and you asked about where the kids would sleep, what adults would be present, now you have the right to ask more teen-appropriate questions. What are their rules about teens and drinking? What are the rules about separate bedrooms? Is the mom (or the dad) going to be present in the house, or would they perhaps go off hiking for the day leaving the teens completely unsupervised?

I would take into consideration your son's reliability, sense of responsibility, ability to behave politely and respect rules, and I would take into consideration the girlfriend's mom and dad's approach to safety and rules of the house.

And I'd take into consideration the way the girlfriend behaves around your son, and around your family. Is she polite? Considerate? Can she put her phone down and hold a conversation? Does she respect the rules of your house? If they have a curfew, do they respect it?

Another thing: is your son open to having a serious conversation with you? Is he mature enough to talk about sex or abstinence, protection, respect for his own body and privacy and modesty and that of his girlfriend? If he isn't, then maybe he's not old enough to spend a night at his girlfriend's house. It doesn't need to be a lecture, but a conversation about serious things. And, how are his manners? Would you like to have him as an overnight guest? If he's not respectful of your home (dirty clothes just strewn about, dirty dishes left out, snacks not put away, etc), then maybe he hasn't earned the right to be a guest at someone else's home.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I think the first issues you need to focus on are the etiquette issues here. This sounds like two lovely invitations and I do not think that you and your son should rush to "cash in" on them without making sure that your son knows how to be a gracious guest and also figuring out how you can reciprocate.

Has your son ever been a guest in someone's home for longer than a one-night sleepover? (Has your son ever been away from home alone?) In your home, does your son wash dishes, clean up his messes, etc?

Will your son bring each parent a hostess gift, will you send your son with a gift basket of wine+cheese (or a "kid friendly" version of that), etc?

Unless you feel extremely certain that the girl's parents have a very casual/relaxed attitude about "two kids instead of one", you should remind your son that he needs to act like a "young adult" in this situation.

Beyond the etiquette logistics - he and his girlfriend will have sex this summer if they put their minds to it, with or without a lake house. "Breakfast with your girlfriend is kind of an adult privilege." Haha...if he's feeling chivalrous he could bring a box of cereal to the backseat of the car.

ETA: I agree with the point below about being a fan of "family vacation means family only" but that's not your battle here because you received the invitation. Also, I would tread carefully about stuff like questioning the other parents about whether they will go off hiking without the kids or leave alcohol in the house or things like that...you need to be able to trust your son's behavior, you cannot control the parents.

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*.*.

answers from New London on

I would call the parents and discuss the rules w/ them about not being alone at night and to be sleeping in separate rooms. He is only 15. You are the parent. Yes...They do need supervision.,,,,I had a friend who got pregnant at 15. And she was a very good girl. The kids were not supervised.
This is a tough one. Just make sure the rules are set in place. If her parents are very conservative...The Mom would be calling you. I know I would be calling you to discuss the trip.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I was 15 once.
If you are determined enough sex can happen right under the noses of adult supervision at home - no need to go anywhere for that to happen - can be done in 10 min or less.

For my family - get aways and vacations were for family - not friends or girlfriends/boyfriends.
I was in college before I was doing non family weekends/trips.
Other families are different and that's all good and well.
Decide what your families standard is and it's ok if it's different.
Sometimes a family trip is a good break from friends and romance and it can give people a chance to think without peer pressure.
In a few short years your son can do as he pleases in college.
No need to rush it.

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S.M.

answers from Chicago on

My children are not at that age yet so I have no firsthand experience here but if you trust the parents then I think it would be fine. Plus they’ll be in separate sleeping quarters. Sounds like a lot of fun summer activities for them to do!

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